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UPDATED: Disabled woman's fight to save Wirral day centre
A DISABLED Wirral woman is leading a petition to save the borough’s day centres.
Kerry Walsh from Prenton and her family are fighting against forthcoming cuts as Wirral Council prepares to make millions of pounds of savings over the next 12 months.
Among the possible changes is the closure of some of the borough’s day centres while there is also an option for two residential care homes which provide respite breaks to fall under the axe.
And 38-year-old Kerry, who suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, is hoping the council will listen to her plea to keep the essential services.
She attends Heswall Day Centre five times a week and is “determined” to stop its closure.
Kerry’s mum, Linda, who is her full-time carer, said: “Kerry has been going to the centre for 17 years and loves it. She is in a routine which makes her very happy and is content but can get very unsettled if things change.
“The staff there are her life and are an absolute Godsend to me as I am on my own with her. The people who are making the decisions don’t know what it’s like – it’s just about money to them but it’s our lives they are dealing with here.
”Kerry is determined to fight against it and asks anyone she can to sign the petition.”
The council’s cost-cutting proposals include the idea of increasing the cost of home care and supported living while there is a possibility that transport to council facilities and schools could be reduced or stopped completely.
There are also proposed financial changes for carers who would receive an annual grant based on their role and requirement for support.
The council’s ruling Labour administration are this week set to look at feedback from the second stage of the local authority’s recent consultation, ‘What Really Matters’, which ended last Thursday.
And Kerry and her family, who have collected 500 signatures against the cuts so far, are hoping to gather support for their plight.
Kerry’s sister, Leanne, said: “People like Kerry are often socially isolated, and for many the centres are the only places they see their friends.
“Wirral Council could close either Kerry's centre or another of the three main centres in Wirral. They seem to think that it is okay to just uproot and move these vulnerable people like cattle into another centre.
"It feels as though we have gone back in time, to when vulnerable people were looked upon as inconveniences rather than individuals who deserve as equal a shot at a happy and fulfilled life as every one of us.
“Whichever centre is closed will have a devastating impact on a number of special people just like Kerry and their carers lots of whom are now pensioners and still lovingly look after their adult children with special needs.
Graham Hodkinson, director of Wirral’s adult social services department, said: “The option relating to day services makes no reference to Heswall Centre specifically but rather proposes the closure of one large day centre to allow for investment into the rest of our day services to ensure they are modern, attractive and fit for purpose.
“We have been working with people who use services, their families and carers since 2011 and have held a number of consultation events at each centre, at which we have collected an enormous amount of feedback regarding this option particularly, and I will ensure that Ms Walsh’s petition is also considered when it is received by the council.”
The issue is to be discussed when the council cabinet meets this Thursday.